The Archdiocese of St. John’s says it continues to work with survivors and assess the value of its properties to compensate men who were sexually assaulted at the former Mount Cashel orphanage.
In a letter read during Masses on Saturday and Sunday, Archbishop Peter Hundt said the work is a complex and sensitive process that now includes around 130 complaints.
“There could be other claims from victims and so we don’t currently know what the final value of those claims will be,” Hundt said in the letter.
“This is major information we will need before we can effectively determine how to resolve all complaints.”
In 2018, the Supreme Court of Newfoundland and Labrador ruled that the Archdiocese of St. John’s was not responsible for the abuse at the orphanage, but a subsequent appeal by victims overturned that decision in July 2020 .
The archdiocese then filed its own appeal, which was dismissed by the Supreme Court of Canada in January, ending a laborious 21-year process for victims who were abused at the orphanage as children.
Following the Supreme Court of Canada’s ruling, victims’ lawyers have said more victims may come forward and seek compensation as a result of the ruling.
Basilica among properties under evaluation
Hundt said the archdiocese was continuing an analysis of all of its assets – even the Basilica of St. John the Baptist – to determine their value, a process he said will not be completed until early next year.
“The value and sustainability of all of our buildings and properties, including the Basilica, is being investigated. However, this process will still take several months, as this is a major undertaking that involves a lot of research,” did he declare. .
The Archdiocese announced in July that it would sell some well-known properties, including the Archbishop’s Residence in Outer Cove and the Mount St. Francis property on Merrymeeting Road, as well as two plots of vacant land.
It is not clear what the compensation for each victim might be, but the Supreme Court of Canada decision in January awarded four test cases $ 2.6 million, or an average of $ 650,000 per case.
The Archdiocese of St. John’s did not accept an interview, but in an email to CBC News on Sunday, the archbishop’s office said it would provide further information as it becomes available.
Geoff Budden, a lawyer whose firm represents at least 70 abuse survivors in Mount Cashel, says it is reasonable for the Archdiocese to need time to assess its assets, this process should not cause unnecessary delays in l compensation for victims.
“A lot of the survivors are quite old and none of them are young,” Budden said. “And this dispute has been going on for a very long time.”
The potential sale of the basilica came as no surprise to Budden.
“They have to look at all the assets,” he said. “Everything must be on the table.
Budden added that, as expected, more victims have come forward since the Supreme Court of Canada ruling.
“And unfortunately what they had to say was quite familiar to us, sometimes the same writers we’ve heard before,” Budden said.
“I’m sure more can still come forward.”
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